Monday 24 December 2012

Christmas Movie: Room on the Broom

I am proud to announce that the great animation movie Room on the Broom, directed by Max Lang and and Jan Lachauer, my brother, will premiere tomorrow, on Christmas Day at 4:35pm on BBC1. Based on a book written by by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, the movie tells the story of a kind witch who invites a surprising collection of animals to join her on her broom, much to the frustration of her cat. The gang ultimately saves the witch from a fearsome dragon, and in gratitude she rewards them with a magnificent new broom which has room for everyone. The film is produced by Magic Light Pictures.

The Observer states that for those of you, who have been disapointed by Peter Jackson's Hobbit, Room on the Broom might be more satisfying, since it "largely eschews tricks that have made Peter Jackson's Hobbit film controversial".

Thursday 6 December 2012

Workshop at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne

Volker Helm and myself have been invited by Prof. Trogemann for a workshop about generative design and modelling techniques at his legendary labIII, the institution at the very interface between computer science and art in Germany. Trogemann is well known for his books, dealing with the history and materiality of computing, and with the introduction to programming for artists.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Masonry Workshop at ETH Zurich

A stunning Catalan free-form vault has been designed and build by students during a one week workshop organised by Prof. Deplazes and Prof. Block from ETH Zurich. RhinoVAULT has been used for the design of the complex compression-only shape. For details, visit the homepage of the BLOCK Research Group.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Gangnam Style by Ai Weiwei

A great parody on Psy’s hit: "Gangnam Style" : Don’t miss to visit Ai Weiwei’s Google+ account and youtube channel.

Saturday 20 October 2012

Philip Ball and Patterns of Nature

At the Advances in Architectural Geometry Conference 2012 in Paris, I had the pleasure to watch the keynote lecture by the science writer Philip Ball. He is the author of several popular books on science, including works on the nature of water, pattern formation in the natural world, colour in art, and the science of social and political philosophy. In three of his books Ball explictitly discusses the formation of patterns in nature : "Shapes", "Flow", and "Branches".

A similiar topic has been presented by Ball in February 2012 at the The New York Institute for the Humanities, a transcript of one of his lectures dealing with a similar topic can be found here.

According to Ball, one major reference for pattern formation in nature is the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction. The javascript applet below is a cellular automata inspired by the BZ reaction, with randomized input parameters.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Prototypical Institute Building at ETH Zurich

At ETH Zurich, currently a new prototypical building for the Institute of Technology in Architecture is being planned in a collaborative process among the members of the institute. An exhibition at Science City Campus, ETH Zurich, is presenting the current state of the project.

Video and image courtesy of ETH Zurich.

For the design of the roof, research conducted at the Chair of Structural Design has been combined with robotic fabrication processes developed at the Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication to design a lightweight wood construction. The structural engineers are Dr. Lüchinger + Meyer Bauingenieure AG.

The Sequential Structure 2, a prototypical pavilion developed at the Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication, served as reference for the roof construction.

Paremetric modelling strategies developed at the Chair of Structural Design allowed for the direct inscription of structural constraints into the roof geometry.

Monday 3 September 2012

Advances in Architectural Geometry 2012

I am looking forward to present my latest research at the Architectural Geometry Conference 2012. Download the conference program here. The conference proceedings can be purchased from Springer.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Tamedia Headquarters by Shigeru Ban II

New photos from Shigeru Ban´s construction site in Zurich, Switzerland:

ShigeruBanTamedia3 A great detail: sheared node geometry, resulting from the chamfered corner of the building in plan.



Thursday 21 June 2012

Soccer: Germany vs. Greece

I am looking forward to the game tomorrow ... hopefully it does not end as in Monty Python's Philosophers' Football Match:

There is sophisticated mathematics behind the geometry of the soccer ball. Pieter Huybers, a dutch structural engineer, studied this field extensively and developed an optimized ball geometry with respect to roundness. He presented his work at the Structural Morphology Group Seminar 2011 in London.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Digital Tools in Sculptural Practice

I just discovered a great blog dealing with digital modeling and fabrication techniques in contemporary sculptural practice. Student work from two courses held by Andrew F. Scott at the Savannah College of Art and Design is presented.

afsART:Black Power Nkisi

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Ai Weiwei in Zurich

Since last Friday Ai Weiwei's marble sculpture Sofa in White (2011) is exibited on Paradeplatz, Zurich, Switzerland, as part of the Art And The City project.

WhiteSofa1 WhiteSofa2

It seems not to be very comfortable though ... WhiteSofa4

Monday 14 May 2012


Chris Precht, master student at TU Vienna and founder of prechteck combined a GH definition I developed for modelling paperstrip geometries with the principle of ZipShape, developed by Christoph Schindler, to model these beautiful prototypes, as part of his thesis: IMG_0644 IMG_0644 IMG_0644 Images (c) by Chris Precht.

Thursday 10 May 2012

RhinoVAULT Beta released!

The BLOCK Research Group is pleased to announce the pre-release of rhinoVAULT Beta V0.2! The current version is now freely available for download. The Rhinoceros® Plug-In emerged from current research on structural form finding based on the Thrust-Network-Approach to intuitively create and explore compression-only structures.

”The resistant virtues of the structure that we seek depend on their form; it is through their form that they are stable, not because of an awkward accumulation of material. There is nothing more noble and elegant from an intellectual viewpoint than this: to resist through form.” - Eladio Dieste, 1996

Matthias Rippmann
Lorenz Lachauer
Philippe Block

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Tamedia Headquarters by Shigeru Ban

IMG_0644 Yesterday I took pictures of the construction site of the Tamedia office building in Zurich, Switzerland, designed by Shigeru Ban. This webcam shows the construction site, it is located here.

The pictures below show the assembly of a standing frame element, five story high, in front of the already existing structure. This frame is later shifted to the position of the next frame axis in plan. Watch an animation of the construction sequence here.

IMG_0642 IMG_0635 IMG_0637 IMG_0630

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Discrete Textiles

Inspired by the work of Elisa Strozyk, I wrote a script, that imposes a specific length to all edges of a given mesh. For triangulated input meshes, this results in equilateral triangles as faces. Download the python script for Rhino here.

The final geometry is a discrete representation of a crumpled developable surface, if the mesh is consisting only of nodes with the valence of six and of triangular faces. More digitally crumpled surfaces by Tamahiro Tachi on flickr.
A crumpled mesh torus.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Skyscrapers and Surrealism

This drawing by Madelon Vriesendorp, artist and co-founder of OMA, is trying to catch different associations with Norman Foster's Gherkin. It has been published lately in Charles Jencks's book The Story of Post-Modernism.

Madelon Vriesendorp's great animated film, Caught in the Act (Flagrant Délit) from 1979, presents a surrealistic vision of the life of skyscrapers, showing Chrysler and Empire State Building having sex, the naked Statue of Liberty and more great scences. Madelon Vriesendorp is famous for her paintings that have been used as illustrations for Rem Koolhaas's book Delirious New York. For more information about her work, read this interview.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Žižek on Ideology of Form

Slavoj Žižek, enfant terrible of contemporary philosophy, speaks about hidden ideodology in architecture, especially in functional forms and objects. Therefore he compares the mechanics of three different bowl shapes of flush toilets in a very entertainig way.

Watch the full lecture held at the Fundación Arquitectura y Sociedad, Madrid, June 10, 2010, here. The essay Architectural Parallax by Žižek deals with similar topics.

Monday 13 February 2012

Frank Gehry’s Throwaway Joke

A classic: Frank Gehry as guest star in The Seven-Beer Snitch, the fourteenth episode of The Simpsons' sixteenth season. Now he regrets his appearance in the Simpsons ...

Monday 16 January 2012

RhinoVAULT Workshop in Innsbruck

Invited by Günther H. Filz and Rupert W. Maleczek, the Block Research Group will give a workshop at koge, University of Innsbruck, Austria, as part of the Ringvorlesung 2012. Prof. Philippe Block, Matthias Rippmann and myself will lead a design workshop using RhinoVAULT, a plug-in for Rhino, that allows for the intuitive design of compression-only shapes, offering a maximum control of the geometry.

Friday 13 January 2012

Building the Bubble - Architecture and Financial Crisis

Since a few days a report by Barclays Capital that points out correlation between skyscraper boom and economic crisis is topic of international news, e.g. BBC and BI. Economist Andrew Lawrence suggested in 1999 the Skyscraper Index, as predictor of economic crisis.

The relation between skyscraper building and finance has earlier been discussed earlier in the great book Form Follows Finance by Caroll Willis.

Furthermore, I found an interesting figure related to this topic on page 94 in Alex Lehnerer’s Book Grand Urban Rules, showing the relation between industrial production and building height limitations in Chicago.

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